Stephanie Maxwell headshotStephanie Maxwell

Deputy Director and General Counsel |
Tennessee Sports Wagering Council

The sports wagering world is a new and exciting place to be, and who better to be at the helm of changes in Tennessee than Stephanie Maxwell. Stephanie has harnessed her legal and personal talents in a myriad of ways to find a career she’s passionate about. She reflects on her past time at Bass, Berry & Sims and offers wisdom on lessons learned throughout her career.

What is the best and/or most rewarding part of your role?

The most rewarding parts of my job are being part of a new industry that is exploding in growth and changing every day, and being able to craft the statutes and regulations in a manner that protects all parties involved. To put it in context, since the abolition of PASPA (the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) in 2018, 37 states and the District of Columbia now permit some form of sports betting. In 2019, Tennessee became the first state to legalize online sports betting. Since then, we’ve significantly revised our Sports Gaming Act and rules as the industry has matured.

The best parts of my role are that I learn something new every day and every day is totally different. I draft legislation, answer questions about licensing and registration, testify in legislative committees, analyze violations by our operators and recommend fines and disciplinary actions to our Council, review house rules and terms and conditions, analyze whether to permit wagering on certain sports leagues and events, write rules, respond to records requests, handle HR issues, talk to other lawyers and compliance personnel from all over the world, and anything else that comes up.

One of the most fun things I get to do is speak regularly about this industry to a variety of audiences, such as members of the ABA Corporate Law Section, attendees at a KPMG conference in Malta (sadly, only via Zoom), and, recently, an audience of 850 teenage boys at my son’s high school.

What advice do you have for attorneys interested in having a career like yours?

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Litigation can be a cutthroat endeavor, but you can advocate for your client while being respectful of, gracious to, and honest with opposing counsel. Building those relationships with both colleagues and opposing counsel has served me well as I have transitioned to new roles – all the jobs I’ve had since my first job out of law school have materialized from relationships with former colleagues and opposing counsel. It’s also important to be willing to try something totally new. When I was in law school and contemplating my career, I had never heard of a lawyer with a gaming practice and would never have expected to end up working in this industry.

How did your time at Bass, Berry & Sims prepare you for your role?

I learned so much during my time at the firm about legal writing, taking depositions, and examining witnesses (and about so many different industries). I was so lucky to get to work with so many smart attorneys. I learned so much about litigation generally from Wally Dietz, but I also learned about mentoring younger lawyers. One time I made a mistake defending a deposition, and he handled it in such a positive way, treating me with respect and making it into a teachable moment. I think about that often as I work with newer lawyers.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

It’s not very exotic, but I love Asheville, North Carolina and Pisgah National Forest. I grew up spending my summers at a camp nearby, so it’s a place very dear to my heart. We spend a few days there every Christmas with our boys to hike and eat fabulous food.

What’s on your music playlist? 

Mostly Coldplay – they are my favorite. I have seen them in concert four times across the country and can’t wait for the next tour!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I would love to write books about history – basically, I’d like to be Jon Meacham.


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